Kelly O’Malley is UVM’s Coordinator of Presidential Events. During the pandemic, Kelly also took on an additional role supporting the UVMStrong Health & Safety Committee. Her contributions to the University both in her regular job and during her tenure with the Committee has shown just how deserving she is of this award. Those who work with Kelly understand how lucky they are. She embodies Our Common Ground values and is also known to be attentive, focused, collaborative, supportive, hardworking with a can-do attitude, and invaluable.

As the Coordinator of Presidential Events, one of Kelly’s responsibilities is planning Commencement. During a “normal” year, planning an event as large as this is daunting. As one of Kelly’s peers wrote, “Kelly is the conductor of the enormous orchestra of support that [commencement] requires. She embodies openness and respect as she collaborates seamlessly with numerous campus partners, vendors, volunteers, and others.” Then, came COVID. Even when everything around us was changing daily, Kelly never stopped planning for Commencement. She knows that, to many students and their families, this is one of the most meaningful events of their lifetime. Kelly knows how important this is. As things around us changed, she adapted. She modified, explored, and then she planned some more. She never lost sight of the importance of this event. In the end, Kelly was able to find a way to safely have not one, but TEN in-person commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2021. She even found a way to celebrate the Class of 2020 in a new and innovative way.

As it relates to her work on the UVMStrong Health & Safety Committee, the word that was used to describe Kelly was “invaluable”. The integrity, responsibility, and innovation she applies in her job coordinating events translated to her support for the committee as we worked tirelessly to keep the university safe. Her tremendous contributions, not only to the Health and Safety Committee’s work, but also to the entire campus community was one of the keys to the team’s success, to UVMStrong’s effort and, ultimately, to UVM’s overall outcome. A lot of the committee’s work was taking place late at night, early in the morning and on weekends. She prioritized this work over herself. She put others first. She understood that the work we were doing was going to impact thousands: faculty, staff, and students as well as their families and friends. Kelly accepted that responsibility without question. She stepped up, she stepped in, and she kept us moving in the right direction all the while, bringing smiles and a positive attitude to everything she did.

Thank you, Kelly.